The Mermaid of Brooklyn
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The Mermaid of Brooklyn

3.4 of 5 stars 3.40  ·  rating details  ·  399 ratings  ·  111 reviews
Sometimes a mother needs to come up for air…

Jenny Lipkin, former up-and-coming magazine editor and current stressed-out mother of two, is struggling. With two demanding children, she is adjusting to life as an average mother, drinking coffee in the playground and complaining about breastfeeding, sleepless nights and how to get the buggy on the subway.

And then, one summer e...more
Paperback, 368 pages
Published August 1st 2013 by Pan Macmillan (first published April 1st 2013)
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Susan Tunis
Keep calm and mermaid on

The tag line for Amy Shearn’s sophomore novel, The Mermaid of Brooklyn, reads “Sometimes all you need in life is a fabulous pair of shoes—and a little help from a mermaid.” Now, if you ask me, that sounds like some kind of light chick-lit novel—and there’s nothing wrong with light chick-lit. But that’s not what you’ll find in these pages. That’s selling Amy Shearn’s novel way too short.

First, it’s not chick-lit at all. If you must classify, put this one down as women’s fi...more
Apollo's Crow
[Advance Reader's Copy]

A confession. It took me a while to get to reading this, happy as I was to receive a copy of it. What did I, a childless male, really expect to get out of a book about a jilted Brooklynite mother? It sat forgotten at the bottom of my to-read stack.

Obviously I did get around to it, since here I am. And you know what? I really liked this. I liked getting into the head of a frazzled, charmingly snarky urban mom, juggling one of those life-situations that on the surface seems...more
Jenny is a mother to two children. She is married to Harry. Jenny awakes one morning to learn that Harry has not returned home from work. Jenny calls him but gets his voice message. As time passes Jenny realizes that Harry is not returning home. Jenny is left to care for the children alone or so she thinks. Jenny receives some help in the form of a mermaid.

I liked the premise of this book. It sounded like a fun read. Unfortunately it way missed the mark for me. I struggled to get as far as I di...more
Jessica Jeffers
This book has an audience that will enjoy it immensely; I'm just not in that audience

This didn't sound anything like the kind of book I'd normally pick up, but the publisher offered me a free advanced copy because Maria Semple blurbed it and my review of Semple's Where'd You Go Bernadette somehow earned more than 200 likes.

Jenny is a run-down mom in Brooklyn whose gambling-addicted husband doesn't come home one night. Pushed to her breaking point, Jenny decides to end her life but, in a magical...more
I recently read this book on a recommendation and loved it. I live near and work in, Park Slope, Brooklyn where this book takes place. It's so much fun to read a book where you can recognize the places and people that are being written about - but it's not just a book about being a mom in Brooklyn. It's almost like a love story to motherhood, it tells about the daily struggles and heroics that Jenny Lipkin survives every day and they're the same struggles and heroics that mothers of young childr...more
While this novel is definitely something of a summer read, with relatively simple themes of overcoming adversity and self-rediscovery, it's rewarding beyond that simplicity because of its language and the lens through which the themes are approached. Jenny, a disillusioned young mother, narrates the tale and manages to be quippy and funny even in the midst of chronicling her descent into despair. What would otherwise be an oppressive look at the sadness and lack of fulfillment in everyday life c...more
Sara Strand
I knew immediately that not only was I going to love this book a lot but that I was going to love Amy Shearn. First of all, she is hilarious. And I'd like to think she's been through post-partum depression and everything else that parenthood brings because it was so real. Jenny's story sounds so much like mine, minus the mermaid and cute dad situation, and I felt like I was reading my memoir.
Which legitimately felt a little cheated because now I feel like I have a different route to go on my ow...more
Diane S.
Although one could find the plot of this story implausible, I mean doesn't everyone have their own personal mermaid to step into their shoes, and fix things when one cannot cope. Jenny Lipkin, with 2 small daughters, finds herself unable to cope with motherhood, life, certainly cleaning her house, and a husband who disappears rendering her a single mom. The author does a wonderful job describing the sleepless nights and days, the overwhelming feeling of being unable to cope that is generally the...more
This is a book about motherhood but also more than motherhood - being a person and still being a mother. Shearn does a beautiful job of expressing the difficult emotions of a new mother with a toddler and encompasses post partum depression in all it's terrible glory. The writing is spectacular - Shearn made me laugh out loud over and over again! She manages to mix beautiful prose, witty satire, and describes the intricacies of motherhood in a way you only speak of with your closest mom friends -...more
Too much angst! Too much self! Written in the first person and all about that. Jenny, married five years & with a baby & a toddler, wakes up to find her husband gone. Well, he is bipolar & a gambler, aloof from his children, and he smokes. Is it time to say good riddance? Not for Jenny. She has to spend the summer analyzing it but accepts Harry when he shows up again in September. Really?
Lots of grim details about life with kids; not a lot of forward momentum or interest. Great title, but the mermaid turns out to be an irritating cheerleader in the protagonist's head who drops in and out of the narrative at random, adding nothing to the story.
For any parent who has been able to stay at home with two or more young children, this book will take you right back to that most depressingly agonizing yet most joyful time. Amy Shearn describes situations so perfectly it gave me flashbacks, almost to the point that, at times, I was crippled with my own memories of postpartum hell. Ironically, although my heart broke for the main character, Jenny; like her, I wanted to be selfish in my own misery.

This is an amazing story of love, survival, und...more
Jennifer Jensen (Literally Jen)
It was crystal clear to me in less than 30 pages that this book and I were not going to get along. At all. By page 75, I threw in the towel. This is a horrible portrait of a stay-at-home mom, and in a lot of ways it's very scarily accurate. I'm a stay-at-home mom, and the very last thing I want to read about is my own life. And that is what it feels like. Breastfeeding, messy house, etc. I'm living it to a certain extent; this is not enjoyable fiction. The MC is incredibly whiny and so far has d...more
I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads, having entered the giveaway thinking that with it's upbeat, brightly colored cover, it would be a lighthearted, romantic affair with a quirky, awkward, yet likeable and interesting heroine, taking care of her kids in NYC.

Instead, I got a psuedo-fairy tale (whose main characters makes fun of fairy tales and misquotes the lyrics from Sleeping Beauty NOT on purpose) whose Cinderella is a cranky, whining, and morally questionable mother p...more
What initially appealed to me about this novel was its Brooklyn setting. Jenny Lipkin is married to Harry, a man who works for his family's failing candy supply business. They have two daughters, preschooler Betty and baby Rose.

They live in a cramped (but expensive) Park Slope walk-up, and they seem to argue a lot. Harry has a gambling problem and feels he is meant to do better things. One day Harry calls and says he is stopping to get cigarettes and doesn't return. Jenny is a little worried, bu...more
Meg - A Bookish Affair
"The Mermaid of Brooklyn" was the perfect day for me to while away the afternoon with. I definitely got sucked into this book. It's good fiction with a heavy dose of magical realism, an element that I absolutely love. It takes the ordinary and makes it fantastic. The main character, Jenny, is possessed by a rusalka (slavic for mermaid) when Jenny jumps off the Brooklyn Bridge. It has been awhile since I have read a book full of magical realism.

The whole story is narrated from the point of view f...more

Mon avis en Français

My English review

Wow this book is not what I expected at all and yet I did not have many things in mind. After reading a book about mermaids, I really wanted to find another one. I must say that we do not find a lot novels featuring them and I wanted to learn more. But this book is not like that, even far from that. It is not a pretty story about a mythical character, but rather a psychological drama about the life of a young mother.

Jenny is a young woman who is depress...more
Beth Ann
I was not quite sure about this book when the first sentence was "Before I died the first time, my husband left me broke and alone with our two tiny children..." But I stayed with it and it drew me in quickly. Amy Shearer weaves a tale of sensational emotions and raw feelings as the reader sees the life of Jenny Lipkin unfolding in front of their eyes. Once I started I could not stop. Fabulous book with wonderful writing!!!
other reviewers mentioned the narrator's passionate, ceaseless whining. it's true; she whined lots. but I could sympathize with her because she confirmed all of my worst fears about being a stay-at-home mother. it sounds absolutely awful! tell me it isn't all horrible! I felt so bad for her. even though I strongly dislike magic realism, I still gave this book two stars because I felt so terrible for this poor mom.

I have to say, the ending was so abrupt and weak that it seemed like the author got...more
I loved the book and I loved Jenny even with all her fear and insecurities. I enjoyed the description of the Brooklyn neighborhoods and parks and I now feel like I am even more familiar with that area. My favorite quote, that I wished I had known about when I was raising or trying to raise kids, was "let me share some wisdom from the great beyond: It's true, Everyone has something. No matter how perfect their lives seem. everyone". Thanks Amy.
Shearn captures the pure exhaustion of early motherhood and postpartum depression perfectly. It has been over 10 years since having my own baby, but I was transported right back to those early weeks. When Shearn introduces a rusalka (the slavic word for mermaid) into the story, Jenny's interior monologue and inner strength are revealed and the ho-hum day-to-day life of a middle-class single mom unfolds into an Everymother sort of tale.
I just did not "get" this book at all. Whilst the idea was a good one and original and I had been looking forward to reading it, the main character Jenny seemed to do nothing but whine, whine, whine and bitch, bitch, bitch for a great part of the book, so that to be honest I can really understand why her husband went out for cigarettes and didn't come home again. By the time the "main event" kicked in and the story moved on, I had really lost interest in Jenny completely. As a mother of two, 20...more
Marcy Dermansky
i have liked Amy Shearn for so long, just from FB and twitter and Instagram, pictures of her kids, posts about her kids, articles and lists published in so many places, that I finally read her book. She gets the day to day despair and joy of urban motherhood, I was almost breathless.
Jill Smolinski
“I absolutely loved this inventive, smartly written tale of a struggling single mother who finds herself seeing her life through new eyes--those of a lusty, fearless and frequently wise mermaid eager to take on all the world has to offer. Insightful and engaging.
Christi Craig
I always like to quote from a good book I just finished reading, and while I have a quote, it isn't from the story itself. It's from the interview with Amy Shearn that comes after the story:

"...I found myself at the playground as usual, pushing my baby on the swings. A somewhat frazzled mother I knew was talking about how she couldn't find any novels she wanted to read and also about how frightening she found parenting a baby. . . . She just wanted to find a book for moms like her...middle-class...more
This is the best book I've read in a long time. It is an amazing, humorous, poignant, magical and yet totally realistic depiction of a young mom struggling with 2 small children after her husband runs out on an errand one night and doesn't return. The descriptions of her thoughts on mothering, marriage, hating the perfection of those pulled-together, happily married moms at school, the utter exhaustion and simultaneous delight of keeping little kids occupied and entertained, the constant belief...more
Could not finish this book, which is more about place and character than it is about story. Won't be recommending it.
Funny, sensitive, and somehow emotionally spot on, Amy Shearn's The Mermaid of Brooklyn kept me reading late into the night.

I confess that part of my fascination came from the way that she captured South Slope/Park Slope so well. I feel as though Jenny Lipkin might live right around the corner from me on Seventh Avenue. But it's Jenny and her voice that makes The Mermaid of Brooklyn stand out. She's smart, been out of the work place for a while throughout the recession and the early years of chi...more
This was an odd sort of book really - very light in many ways, but with an underlying theme of mental illness. I wasn't sure if we were supposed to suspend disbelief about the whole mermaid thing or see it as a coping mechanism. If the former, I don't really like that kind of book, and if the latter, she was a mother of two small children who couldn't remember doing various things or what happened during hours at a time. It was funny in places and very accurate about how toddlers "play" with eac...more
Andrea Guy
The Mermaid Of Brooklyn is one of those books that you can't help but keep reading. It isn't because this is a fantastic work of fiction. In fact, the first part of the book is pretty darn depressing. When Harry up and leaves Jenny without a word, you can't help but hate him.


Because Jenny is so very inept. She's a harried and truth be told, not a very good mom, and probably not a very good wife either. There were times throughout the book that I really wanted to slap her simple and the fact...more
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Mermaid of Brooklyn 2 14 Feb 17, 2013 06:56AM  
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Amy Shearn is the author of the novels How Far Is the Ocean from Here and The Mermaid of Brooklyn.
More about Amy Shearn...
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